2011 Sachsenring MotoGP Sunday Roundup - Great Racing, And Ducati's Future Direction

After days of apparently talking about everything except motorcycle racing, the Sachsenring - nestled in the wooded valleys of Saxony, to borrow a phrase from elsewhere - served up a triple helping of thrilling, fairing-to-fairing racing. All talk of Japan and tires was temporarily forgotten, at least until the warm afterglow of a fantastic day's racing had diminished.

The day began with a riveting 125cc race, with a group of six battling for most of the race, dropping to just three, and then Hector Faubel and Johann Zarco crossing the line at exactly the same time. A video and photo finish could not separate them, and Faubel was finally awarded the win on the basis of having set a faster personal best lap during the race. There has to be some way of separating the riders in the event of a tie, but it was cruel for it to be settled this way. Faubel fully deserved the win - the Bankia Aspar rider rode the wheels of his Aprilia - but then so did Zarco. There was a sigh of disappointment through the press room as the popular Frenchman was denied, but there were few who begrudged Faubel the victory.

Next up was the Moto2 class, and by the standards of the day, it was relatively tame. Marc Marquez wrapped up yet another win - his fourth of the season, matching Stefan Bradl's total - with two laps to go, but the Spanish youngster was made to work hard for it. Marquez, Bradl and Alex De Angelis - the Italian always goes brilliantly at the Sachsenring - swapped the lead for 27 laps before Marquez made the decisive push, dropping the hard-charging Bradl with two to go. Though Marquez only narrowed the gap in the championship by 5 points, the fact that the Spaniard has now won three on the trot, four out of the last six races, and finished second in another one of those, Bradl's 47 point lead is looking anything but unassailable. Despite Marquez' strength, Bradl also rode superbly, taking everything he could from his home Grand Prix. This championship has all the makings of a thriller.

It also raises the question of what to do about Marquez next year. The Spaniard is firmly ensconced under the Repsol wing, but there is no room at the Repsol Honda MotoGP team for the foreseeable future. Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa are firmly ensconced in the factory Honda garage, both holding contracts through 2012. Andrea Dovizioso is not under contract for next year, but he is doing everything in his power to make it clear that the Italian deserves to be kept. Which leaves Marquez in Moto2 for 2012, but the experience of Toni Elias and, to a lesser extent, Karel Abraham has failed to demonstrate that Moto2 prepares riders for MotoGP. The lack of electronics, the extremely limited adjustments available to the purposefully rudimentary Suter clutch, and the inability to change the gearing leaves a lot for Moto2 riders to learn, and the fundamentally different nature of the Dunlops compared to the Bridgestones used in MotoGP means the riders learn totally different habits in Moto2. Another year in Moto2 may mean Marquez learns too many bad habits before going to MotoGP.

The main course - or was it the dessert? - was the best MotoGP race we have seen for quite some time. Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo rode a close, tense race with plenty of passes for the lead. The winning pass came with plenty of laps left to go, but the victory was far from certain until the end. An elated Pedrosa took victory, relieved to have his career back on track and delighted that a win had come so early after his return. The Spaniard is still suffering the after-effects of the collarbone surgery - his fractured right collarbone is being held together with a specially-made and much smaller plate and screws than is usual, making his recovery a significantly lengthier process than normal - and had hoped he might be able to get on the podium in the next couple of races, but had certainly not expected to win so soon.

Jorge Lorenzo took second ahead of Casey Stoner, with a wily and brave pass in the final corner. Lorenzo had seen his original plan to pass at the top of the hill go awry when he made a small mistake, but as he closed on Stoner at the bottom of the hill, he saw Stoner close the door rather firmly, and scented his chance. He pinned the throttle "like a 125" and held the line through Turn 12 to dive up the inside of Stoner, crossing the line in second and clawing back 4 important championship points from the Australian.

Both Stoner and Lorenzo had problems, however; Stoner with his Honda RC212V, and Lorenzo with a bad habit he picked up from riding two-strokes. Stoner said that he was still struggling with edge grip, and that spending so much time on the very edge of the tire meant that by the end of the race he had no more grip to defend against Lorenzo's move with. He was drained after the race with the effort of holding the bike up when the rear wanted to come round, and worried that he and his team have not yet found a solution to the problem. The problem is in the choice of clutch they are using: it eliminates the bulk of the chatter they have suffered in the past, but the downside is that it can sometimes be a bit harsh and lock the rear. The workaround to the problem is to keep the power on, but this chews through the tire too quickly.

Lorenzo's problem was much more simple, but a lot more difficult to solve. All through his racing career, he has learned to ride with a finger over the clutch ready to save the greatest fear of any two-stroke rider: the seized engine. By the time he switched to the four-stroke MotoGP bikes, it was too late to unlearn the reflex. The problem is, that at a left-handed track like the Sachsenring, where the bike spends so much time on its left-hand side, and the riders put so much pressure on the left handlebar, keeping a finger on the clutch causes the left arm to lock up. Lorenzo experimented with taking his finger off the clutch, but as soon as he did that, he found himself running wide, his normal posture unbalanced. Arm pump is just something he has had to learn to live with, and having gained 4 points on Stoner, the pain was less than it could have been.

There was great racing all throughout the field, and one of the most remarkable races came from the man making the most headlines on Saturday. After the worst qualifying result he has ever set while fully healthy, few were giving much for Valentino Rossi's chances. Yet the crew worked their usual Sunday-morning magic - even without chief wizard Jerry Burgess, still back in Australia with his wife as she recovers from surgery - and found a weight distribution change that allowed him to brake harder and enter the corners with more confidence than he had managed all weekend. His fastest race lap time was half a second quicker than he went in practice, and the improved braking performance was visible as a return to more prolific leg-waving on the brakes, Rossi's leg being mostly kept tucked tightly into the fairing so far this year.

The reversal in fortunes was warmly welcomed by the Italian, but the Ducati is still a long way off being competitive. Rossi's best time was half a second quicker than his own best practice time, but still nearly a second off the fastest lap set by Dani Pedrosa. The first half a second may be easy to find, but the next second may prove a real mountain to climb.

The situation also leaves both Rossi and Hayden in something of a quandary. Rossi had been thinking of waiting until the test on Monday after Brno - which, Mike Webb told Moto Journal's Thomas Baujard they were still eligible to do, as Ducati had not tested at Mugello - but he and his crew were now thinking of running a back-to-back test on Friday at Laguna Seca. Nicky Hayden was considering the same option, taking one GP11.1 and one GP11 on Friday to compare the two bikes, then electing to go with two of a particular type on the basis of that test for the rest of the weekend. That is completely legal: you can bring as many bikes as you want to the race track, but you can only have two bikes scrutineered at the same time, meaning that if Hayden tried both bikes on Friday, and decided to go with a GP11.1 for the rest of the weekend, they would have to take the sticker off the GP11 and have the second GP11.1 checked out by Mike Webb's technical staff and approved to ride. The real problem is one of engines, as the engine from the GP11.1 is completely different to the engine from the GP11, so Hayden would have to take two more engines from his allocation. At the halfway mark of the season, Hayden and Rossi would be certain of starting from pit lane at least once this year, but the experiment might be worth it if they collected enough data for next year's bike.

And this is where the big worry is. At the test on the Monday after Mugello, Casey Stoner ran a lap of 1'47.326. Hayden confessed earlier during the week that the Ducatis weren't doing 1'47.3s when they tested the 1000 at Mugello, and given the fact that Ducati believe that a 1000cc bike will be half a second quicker round the Italian circuit than an 800, Honda's dominance looks to be guaranteed into 2012. Paddock rumor - times from the 1000cc test are jealously guarded, though everyone seems to know them - suggests that Casey Stoner was two seconds quicker on the 1000 than he was during the race weekend earlier in the year. Though conditions were markedly better during the 1000cc test, that probably only accounts for half of that improvement, suggesting the RC213V - that's twenty-one three, not two thirteen, according to Honda's MotoGP head Shuhei Nakamoto - is a genuine rocketship.

Though neither Valentino Rossi nor Nicky Hayden would give much away, it is clear that Ducati are considering radical solutions to ease their predicament. Though Valentino Rossi denied he had asked Ducati for a traditional frame for the bike - "I am not an engineer, I am a rider" he said - nothing has been ruled out. When asked if Ducati were considering a deltabox frame, or changing the engine configuration, Hayden denied that Ducati had anything in the works, but did say that the MotoGP chief had a few ideas chalked up on his whiteboard. Team boss Vito Guareschi told Italian journalists at Mugello that he did not think that a traditional deltabox frame would be a good move for Ducati. The Japanese have twenty or more years with the design, while Ducati have never built such a frame, and would be at a huge disadvantage - in effect, twenty years of data - to their Japanese rivals.

It may turn out to be necessary, though. The front feeling with the 1000 is much better than the 800, but both Hayden and Rossi admitted that it is still a problem. Merely enlarging the engine capacity may not be enough to solve the front-end feel, and a total rethink could be what is needed. There are 9 more MotoGP races to go - leaving the thorny question of what will happen at Motegi to one side for the moment - and that's a lot of time to try to perfect the combined airbox/subframe concept before abandoning it for something else.

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Hello Carlos, yes, Fillipo. We need you to come test some things on our MotoGP bike. Yes, we know you are trying to win a World Superbike Championship. Well, you see, we can't come up with anyone else who can ride within 4-5 seconds of Vale and Nicky, and therefore all of our data is, ahhhh, well, not very valid.

Right, so there might be a wild card ride and a little something extra in your bonus check.

OK, see you soon.


Too funny. Would love to see Carlos do this just for the fun factor it would bring.

Supposing that Ducati concede they can't make the two-subframes-and-an-engine chassis handle and replace it with something else, how many of the new two-subframes-and-an-engine super quadrata street/superbike will they sell next year?

Considering the results thus far this season and the fact that Rossi has stated many times in the past that he would like to ride WSB, I wonder if it's only a matter of time before before Ducati decides to pull out of the very expensive Moto GP series and put all their eggs into WSB. Race on Sunday-Sell on Monday. Rossi and Hayden could sell as many bikes for Ducati in Europe and the U.S. racing in the much more affordable WSB class as they can racing Moto GP. The forcast for the future seems to be that Ducati will continue to play catch-up with little actual chance of doing so. How such a small company can afford to do so is baffeling to me. Do they really sell that many Rossi coffee cups and t-shirts to offset the expenditures? I do appreciate the David and Goliath appeal to the sport and would miss seeing Ducati in Moto GP, but how long can we expect Ducati to battle against the Japanese with these results? Then again, what do I know about how it all works? Maybe their sponsor network is so well run that all their expenses are actually covered.

I would hate to see Ducati do this. It would not go well with their motto of "we sell street bikes so we can race".

Ducati is expanding this to their production twin. They have a real hard on for this design but where has it gotten you? You won the championship on a trellis so what are you doing?

I think the commentator on the Argentinean broadcast said something about a new update for the GP11 for Laguna Seca. He usually has very trust worthy information. Has anybody heard anything like that? It would mean that they didn't abandon the GP11 for the GP11.1

Even though they have not gotten many results this year. I think they, (Ducati). Will figure some things out. Someone said it earlier this year, the Carbon in the Frame, may be the problem with the front end feel.

This year may be a wrap as far as the championship. But I will give them another year of racing 2012. After that, I think these problems may even affect Rossi's winning mentality. If he is unable to find a way to ride around issues that do not seem to be solved with this design, and beginning to sound like next years design either. Ducati seem to be doing everything in their power to change it. They probably feel like a goalie in on the Italian team during World Cup that is trying to keep the other team. A most hated team. From scoring. If they don't then there will be threats of lynching, killing, death in general.

Rossi is a proven winner on all sorts. But Ducati has not been anywhere near as successful in the time of motogp. So I know they are doing ALL that they can. Rossi may have to find the difference to find the time they are losing in a change to his riding style to match the bike. The most successful rider on that Ducati, Stoner, has stated that is what he had to do, and what has to be done to get that bike to work.

"The front feeling with the 1000 is much better than the 800, but both Hayden and Rossi admitted that it is still a problem." This sums up everything I have felt and said since mugello. I am really curious to see what they come up with to make it work.

C'mon, how hard can this be? They have the older frame/engine assemblies whose characteristcs they like, right? So just measure a bunch of parameters, e.g., stiffnesses in multiple directions and frequency responses, then duplicate those with the 2 sub-frame composite design.

By varying both the design and the composite ply orientations and materials (glass, carbon, Sic, Alumina) you can vary the composite design properties dramatically. I could even envision bolt-on stiffeners to "play" with the stiffnesses.

I admit I have no motorcycle frame design experience, but this problem is like most engineering problems: it lends itself to a rational, step-by-step investigation and solution.

i think part of the problem is that no ducati motogp bike has ever had an 'awesome' front end.
from the start ducati's strength was its monster engine. in 2007 stoner was able to exploit this enough to minimise the bikes other shortcomings, but the problem in the last few years for ducati is that all the others (especially honda) have caught up in the engine stakes and the bar has been raised higher everywhere else. heres hoping they can fix it all up because i miss seeing the red bikes at the front

The problem as you describe it, misses one important fact. You´re doing all those designs, prototypes, testings, measurements and corrections in order to solve a problem, but at the same time you have to outsmart other enginering teams with the same purpose and with one thing on their minds: They want to beat you. You certainly can do it obtaining very decent results, but your results have to be substantially better than those developed by your competition in order to succeed. Tenths of a second per lap is the difference between heaven and hell in this sport. Not exactly basic engineering.

Also, importantly, they don't have unlimited testing time to try all the various options.

what MM33 and the others who suffered career changing times on the Ducati think now they see Vale at the back of the pack?

First of all another fine article, and what a brilliant race. Great to see Dani back on the top step and the Jorge vs Casey battle. I saw the race just as David has written it (where does he get all these insights, like Jorge's finger on the clutch). With these riders at their best, the subtle nuances of 'favourite circuit' or tracks that suit the rider's style come into play. Surely some of the most extreme displays of speed and top level motorcycle racing we have seen for some time. Long may it continue.

As for the Ducati, well since the 800 engine has been shown to be a poor match for the new chassis, it means that any 'development work' could likely be of little benefit for next year's 1000. In fact, it could very easily send them down the wrong path. I wish Rossi and Hayden had tried the screamer again, once Rossi reached full fitness. I am sure it would have been a better match to the GP10/11 and allowed them to make improvements with the steering problem. The screamer engine they first tested appeared to have none of the 'tear your arms out' problems that Stoner alluded to when he tried an earlier incarnation. I guess it is all too late now and Ducati are between a rock and a hard place what with mismatched chassis' and engines that are fast becoming scarce.

It all looks bad for Ducati, but look how long Honda struggled to get back on top form. Was it the change to Ohlins that transformed them or a change to Marelli electronics? I seem to recall DePuniet using Ohlins before Danny and putting in an impressive improvement in form. Danny switched to Ohlins and had a few hiccups with the chassis, almost tank slapping down the straight at Losail as I recall, and then nothing but improvement since. Although I think this has a lot to do with not just the Ohlins but their technical backup as well.

We wait with baited breath for the next installment in what is undoubtedly a controversial and exciting end to the 800 era.

Isn't it sad that a computer programmer/engineer can have this much affect on the outcome of a motorcycle race.

Sad, very sad indeed.

You are considering the wrong period in time. Honda were having a hard time of it a few years ago.

Why is it sad? Moreso than if they got a new engine designer, a new frame designer, a new suspension guy? Are programmers insufficiently macho?

Dennis Noyes sums it up by saying "The best racing is produced when there is more power than traction".

The whole purpose for traction and wheelie control electronics is to limit power in order to keep a motorcycle in line and from spinning or raising the front wheel too high. I think this should be left up to the rider because after all, this is how we can tell who has the most skill and nerves.

Also, how do you know whether it is a rider skill problem or a programmer error when the rider gives full throttle out of a corner (like is the common practice with todays MotoGP riders) and he crashes? Today it is impossible to tell.

Just my opinion - yours may vary.

David, do you know if Rossi's contract can be terminated early by iether side, and if so, is that at all likely to happen? What would Rossi's options be? What team might be seeking his services?
Possibly a move to WSB - Ducati, possibly?
This year seems to be an absolute disaster for both Rossi and Ducati and from what I can glean, the future does not look very promising iether, not even the 1000cc bike would seem to be competitive at this stage.
Just wondering what might, or could possibly happen. Sure would like to see both Rossi and Nikki up at the front again!

In MotoGP, other than staying at Ducati? Suzuki. He has burnt his bridges with Honda & he wont race against Lorenzo on equal machinery.

The Honda head honcho at the start of the season said they would welcome Rossi back with open arms.. It's in the archives of many sites, and probably here.

Honda have also said only two factory RC213V's for next year. So they would drop Stoner or Pedrosa???
For any of that to happen, it would still take a climb down by Rossi. He would have to admit that its not all about him after all.

Shuhei Nakamoto is one of the most skillful players in the MotoGP paddock. It is hard to decipher his meaning from any of his public statements, and that has nothing to do with his language skills. If Casey Stoner persists in refusing to go to Honda's home race track in their home nation, it is not inconceivable that there might be a vacancy in the Repsol Honda team. And his place would need to be filled by someone capable of winning a championship.

Repsol currently have three riders capable of winning a championship, a wild man that seems popular with the Rossi set and a brilliant young talent waiting in the wings. Why on earth would they contemplate taking back Rossi? Over and above which has not Rossi also stated his desire not to attend Motegi?

The rider boycott sounds much like the current posturing of the US Senate. The situation in all probability will be resolved closer to the event / deadline.

Stoner has made up his mind, and he will not change his mind. Lorenzo is the same. Rossi doesn't want to go, but he's not a Honda employee. They would contemplate taking back Rossi because he would win championships for them, simple as that.

Nakamoto's comments sound like a "maybe/maybe not" and nothing more to me too David.
Do Honda really want Rossi back? Right now when they win everybody speaks about what an amazing package the 2011 RC212V is.
When Rossi wins, its him. When he loses its the bike, or his shoulder.
Honda are hardly short of riders capable of winning the championship right now.
Having Rossi is no guarantee of championship success. If it were Yamaha would have kept him at all cost last year.

I have to agree with ajd. Having Rossi is no guarantee of a championship. Also I think the journalists are all making a big deal about blaming Stoner and Lorenzo as if they are the ring leaders. I clearly remember Rossi being the first person to bring this up and Lorenzo being right there with him. And supposedly all riders (except Hiro) have signed the contract. And now the journalist are running with it and acting like Stoner and Lorenzo won't be there and everyone else will be.

I agree with you that Honda doesn´t need Rossi to win a Championship right now, and I think no one is guarantee of championship success. Having said that, I´m positive Valentino riding the RC212V would be a scary thought for the rest of the field and the possibility of a 10th championship would be real high.

The last we heard was that all riders were unanimous, bar the obvious Japanese riders.

Why persist in putting Lorenzo and Stoner up on a soapbox of their own, when by all reports (including yours) the rest of the riders don't want to go either? Even if JL and CS were vocal about it to begin with, everyone else is in the same boat now. I can understand fans having their panties in a bunch about this decision, but I expect some objectivity from journalists - actually that's why I come here in the first place.

Throwing around possible scenarios of Honda signing Rossi over some Motegi crap is ridiculous. I might win a million dollars tommorow, but until I'm bathing in liquid gold and snorting fat lines of straight diamond shavings it's all speculation and just as likely to happen as Honda ridding themselves of championship contenders to take on an aging Rossi who (in this parallel universe of speculation) doesn't finish his job at Ducati and put his incredible "once in a generation" development skills into turning that bike around, and instead wants to jump on the Honda bandwagon.

Please, let this Motegi shit just pass us by without having this site sound like so many others. This debate has dragged the comments down far enough already.

Put any one of the four aliens on a Honda, and they'd have equal chances of winning a championship. So that puts Rossi's chances at 25% on a Honda (as opposed to 0% on a Ducati this year, and I have my doubts about the Ducati next year). So yes, I think Rossi would win a championship on a Honda, though it might not be at the first attempt.

"Put any one of the four aliens on a Honda, and they'd have equal chances of winning a championship."
That line of thought suggests that the 4 aliens were all made equal. Thats not the case.

You are the one that stated Rossi "would" win Honda championships. If we are now being asked to provide data to back up an opinion, wheres yours? This is pure speculation from both of us.
The aliens are not equal, they all have their own particular strengths & weaknesses. They are not machines. Its what makes watching them fascinating.

"Would" is possibly overstating it a little. I think that if you put any of the four aliens on a Honda - better still, if you put all four of them on a Honda - they would be very evenly matched, and all four of them would be equally likely to win a championship. Each race, as you rightly point out, would be much less predictable, and the championship winner would not be known until the very end of the season. That is what makes it thrilling, indeed. However, the statistics show that all of the aliens are capable of winning: Valentino Rossi had 21 wins on an 800cc bike between 2007 and 2010, Casey Stoner had 23 wins in the same period, while Jorge Lorenzo had 14 wins in the three years between 2008 and 2010. Dani Pedrosa is the outlier, with fewer wins, but that has been in part due to Honda's difficulty during the early years of the 800s.

Possibly, but the differences between them are not as great as their individual fans would like to believe. Were you to put the so called fantastic four all in the Repsol garage on the exact same machinery and I don't think any one of them would walk away with a title. It would make for some very nervous bookies though.

I remember VR saying re retirement a yr or two back if he was fighting for 5th or 6th he would stay home !

+1 on Painless' point on the engine. I'd hoped they would go with the screamer too.

Perhaps I misunderstood, but I thought the 2010 superbike was equipped with an ally subframe rather than carbon. I've seen it said that it's not necessarily the flex that causes the issue, but the way the carbon part recovers from the flex... it tends to "snap" back. One has to wonder why they haven't (if they haven't) tried an ally airbox on the GP bike.

Like others, I wondered why they didn't stick with the trellis frame - but apparently they had reached the limit of what they could do with the steel trellis. To make it stronger they would have had to encroach into space required for other components and given themselves major packaging headaches. Should they consider lessening the V angle perhaps? To my mind, as long as they kept the desmodromics, they would still have maintained their uniqueness, but maybe changing the V angle is a step too far... I dunno. Personally, I hope to never, ever, ever see a Ducati with an ally spar frame.

Does anybody know whether the tests of the GP12 were on 2012 spec Bridgestones or 2011 spec? The 2012 spec are significantly softer, apparently. I find it interesting that the Duc has always had a front end it is difficult to get heat into without taking your brain out first. Given that the front tyres from Bridgestone now seem to have reached the point where others are seeing the same issues, you have to wonder whether this has exacerbated the problem with the Duc. Maybe not relevant, but the Japanese bikes in the real world always seem to come equipped with tyres with recommended pressures that make them rock-hard, whereas the European bikes generally come with much lower recommended pressures...

I'd also still be interested in seeing whether the Motocysz forks would help with the issue. They had built-in, tunable lateral flex and might remove some of the issues with the inflexible carbon. Or might not :)

Interesting times ahead!

but the way the carbon part recovers from the flex... it tends to "snap" back.

In which lab did you carry out that experiment? I've never seen any data showing that carbon composites have different recoil properties, just opinions of journalists.

I don't buy it. True, carbon has a higher stiffness to weight ratio, but
a) the fact that it's a composite would usually mean more internal energy dissipation, ie damping, than in a metal. Try building a CF bell/gong/xylophone;
b) the weight of the subframe itself is trivial compared to the engine bolted to the back of it and the forks to the front.
A much more likely reason is the relatively small distance from the steering head to the engine mounts.

Interesting that in the bicycle world, carbon frames are considered to transfer less road vibration than aluminium ones (which are now relegated to budget bikes). Also, if carbon composites were inherently bad for traction due to recoil issues, I doubt it would have been adopted by every F1 constructor as chassis material.

Another possibility is the engine configuration. As pointed out by someone else, the L4 engine implies less weight on the front: the other V engines are more upright and narrower. Then again, it seems to work just fine on the Superbike, but maybe that's an issue of what works on Pirellis doesn't work on Bridgestones.

On Sat 'thecosman' had an excellent post (What Can Help Ducati) on the issue under "2011 Sachsenring Motogp Friday Roundup - Tires Cause Consternation Once Again." Well worth a look/two thirds of the way down.

and a great naked shot of the GP11.9. They're all skin and bone under their flashy dresses!

ENGINE: Surely Ducati do not yet need to resort to narrowing the vee of their iconic L engine. I am quite sure Preziosi could bring that engine closer to the front wheel to change the static weight distribution should he wish to. Rotate the engine, change the shock position - plenty of room out back. Undoubtedly Ducati Corse have run innumerable simulations with the plethora of data they have to see if any theoretical advantage is to be had in this respect.

CF CHASSIS: What are we, year 3 into this technology for Ducati?, and nothing happened development wise in the first two of those! Early, early days. Still plenty of options on their table to consider here too. Lengthening the headstock CF piece to mount to the rear cylinder in a different manner must also be a consideration to give the chassis more reaction time, better engine vibration absorption. 'Feel' is such an ethereal sensation and not one easily engineered into a product.

Ducati Corse is full of highly talented young engineers who are miles ahead of our (well mine anyway!) simple musings. I really do not see Ducati changing from their stated course of 90 degree L engine and CF composite chassis pieces. And good on them. They are searching for a technical edge. O.K it's not happening this year, but it has happened before and it will again.

Just as David stated Lorenzo cannot change his old two stroke clutch finger habit, perhaps entire road racing career on Ally beam frames Rossi simply cannot get to grips with the sensations provided by the Desmosedici? Time to blood another hungry young clean slate rider eager to impress?

Maybe Ducati should give the telelever front suspension a try.

This is only speculation - because in these sorts of matters I think anyone who's not riding the bike, even the most eminent commentator including our gracious host here, is speculating to some degree.

* Rossi would not have been up with the pace this year, even had he continued on the Yamaha.

* Stoner needs to set up the bike for a smoother race. He was capable of 'dog-riding' a bike like the Ducati to a race win, but on the Honda he's up against a very smooth and consistent rider in Lorenzo on the Yamaha. I'm thinking that in qualifying Stoner might be going for a set-up that sacrifices race longevity in favour of securing pole, but in the race itself that set-up is just too hard on the tyres and on himself physically. You could see him really wrestling with the bike at Sachsenring where Lorenzo looked to have the Yamaha pointed at all times.

As easy as Lorenzo has been to hate early on in his career, last year he proved that he can run with the big boys consistently, and this year I find myself admiring how smooth he is lap after lap.

I met a Spanish guy on the Ducati factory tour in Bologna earlier in the year, and hearing his perspective on why Lorenzo is the way he is (personality wise, but he has definitely toned it down this year), I had a much more objective view of the kid most love to hate.

He is a special talent, and I don't think enough people appreciate the level of rider we currently have in GP. Rossi, Lorenzo, Stoner, Pedrosa, Spies. All are world champions and all are worthy of our respect.

We don't realise just how talented these current riders are. Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing hasn't had this much talent since the late 80s and early 90s.

Like many others I suppose, I tended to perceive Lorenzo as an arrogant little brat and I had very little interest in him in spite of his very obvious talent and race results. As far as I am concerned, I simply cannot develop a fascination for a rider unless he has charisma.

I never liked Doohan because of the way he despised his opponents and for his total lack of sense of humor. He has a worthy successor in Stoner, the new king of anti-charismatic GP racers. Becoming an idol is not all about winning races. Guys like Rossi, Edwards and Simoncelli are way more than great motorcycle racers, they are also very interesting human beings, not boring and whining robots.

Rossi's current lackluster performance and Stoner's dominance have had a strange effect on me. Whereas I used to root for a specific rider (usually Rossi, not very original...), now all I want is for somebody to beat Stoner, and I have developed a lot of respect for Lorenzo for sticking it to him.

On the other hand, occasionally a rider escapes the charisma rule and still earns my admiration, and currently it is Pedrosa. The little man is certainly brave and gutsy, even though he looks more like a sad puppy than a roaring lion or a class clown.

Mick Doohan didn't want to be an idol, Stoner doesn't want to be an idol. Both of them simply want(ed) to beat their rivals as often as possible and be world champion. It's a single-minded thing. You don't like Stoner's personality? He doesn't care a jot.

You are totally right, but the thing is I don't care a jot about their obsession. It's just that, as a motorcycle racing fan, I like riders who have more to offer than just blazing speed and a stare that can kill. To me, pure obsession is close to madness. I admire people who do things with a passion without leaving the fun part out of the equation, and this is something I never felt from Doohan or Stoner. The way I perceive them won't change the results, their bank account or their level of stress. I'm just saying that I, like many people, tend to have a fascination for multi-dimensional people who happen to be hugely talented, while a boring person with the same level of talent will probably leave me cold.

silly grins and little waves to the camera? O.K whatever floats your boat. Not my definition of charisma.

Stoner has been very candid and lucid is his description of both the Ducati and Honda thus helping us all understand what makes a machine work and a world class rider tick. We as fans should be thankful he's prepared to talk in such detail. That'll do it for me over pulling faces any day.

I guess I have a soft spot for italian actors.

On the other hand, believing that Stoner is really candid in his technical descriptions is, how should I put it... a bit candid... ;-)

Interestingly I saw a video clip featuring DP while he waited for a film or ad production to commence, and guess what? He was not at all as we perceive him (me included). He was normal, happy, smiling, relaxed. (Rather the opposite of what we saw in a Motogp clip last yr when his Honda was fishtailing alarmingly at high speed on a straight. He was recorded handing his machine over in his garage - he almost shouted at his crew - suppressed rage I guess. Not surprising, he sure was putting himself at risk on it. Notable was that the crew had their heads down - nothing needed to be said.

Ooooooops I've just seen the cover of this weeks GPWeek.com featuring Danny, and he's, well, not got the winner's big smile!

I just don't see where people get off saying Casey is too serious or anti-charismatic. He smiles more than any rider out there and is always the first to congratulate the people that beat him. And even after a so-so result he still jokes around with Azi at the end of every race. I am more of a Stoner fan, but I like Lorenzo and Dani as well.

"Ya thanks Jen... It was a tough race..."
"You're right there Lucy, the tires were good today..."

Reminds me a bit of Dr.Cox from scrubs, calling JD a different girls name every time he sees him! Always cracks me up.
Casey has a lot more substance than style and only says what he means. People mistake this for a lack of charisma and being too serious, respectively. Whatever, I like him anyway.

* Rossi would not have been up with the pace this year, even had he continued on the Yamaha.

-Based on what? Speculation is one thing. Personal opinion is something else.

* Stoner needs to set up the bike for a smoother race. He was capable of 'dog-riding' a bike like the Ducati to a race win, but on the Honda he's up against a very smooth and consistent rider in Lorenzo on the Yamaha. I'm thinking that in qualifying Stoner might be going for a set-up that sacrifices race longevity in favour of securing pole, but in the race itself that set-up is just too hard on the tyres and on himself physically. You could see him really wrestling with the bike at Sachsenring where Lorenzo looked to have the Yamaha pointed at all times.

-Lorenzo did look smooth as butter. Stoner's tires did seem to go off at the end which may have cost him a victory rather than podium. I can't speculate on what different setup or tire choice would have made a difference but I bet they did in their post race debrief.

Awesome race. Several battle through out the grid. Spies/Rossi catching up in last few laps, Bautista edging out both Ducatis. Speis over Simoncelli.

There were three finishes yesterday.

Brilliant. Laguna should be fun as well... another short track.

Cmon Spies.

"It also raises the question of what to do about Marquez next year."
It's easy. They can't put him on a Repsol due to the rookie rule. Give him the LCR or one of the Gresini to learn, and assess his potential. If he's good enough, Honda will have to decide between him, Sic, or Dovi. Regardless, Honda is bound to loose at least one of their top riders to a different manufacturer. They just have too many of them.

Yes put him on a satelite team but to decide to put an unknown over the known talent of Sic or Dovi would be a hard choice. I suppose that if Dovi or Sic didn't improve next year your idea would be a good one.

This Montegi situation could potentially change the landscape of the MotoGP grid. From what I read about the Japanese culture, I don't think they will take too kindly, an employee's refusal to go to Japan, home of MotoGP. Stoner and Lorenzo may have genuine concerns (despite favorable reports) about their health but they need to be more diplomatic and avoid taking public stances like the ones from last weekend. I wont be surprised if they get fired for continuing to insist...

I'm afraid not. Too many people inside the paddock don't want to go, some of them for reasons that have nothing to do with radiation.

Formula 1's Bahrain race was postponed, boycotted by the riders, and eventually cancelled despite having a report drawn up for the drivers, and the FIA saying time and time again that the race will go on. I realize that Bahrain is not home to any of the Formula 1 factories to my knowledge, however it is a very useful example of when a paddock has a very clear position on a large issue.

I think firing any of the top riders would be a public nightmare. If I were the flammini brothers I would be licking my chops at the thought of bringing in a Casey Stoner or a Jorge Lorenzo into WSBK next year. I hope MotoGP has a blast with plummeting ratings as everyone switches over to WSBK to watch the aliens set faster times than any of the remaining motoGP riders. Part of being the Premier class is having the premier riders. Without it, it really loses all its flavor.

Ask Max Biaggi about Japanese honor and protocol.

Riders that think they are in control of the sport because of their popularity had better seriously consider their position. Fine if they really mean it - but don't risk your profession by a meaningless bluff.

Also, never underestimate the power of the dollar/yen/Euro. No one involved in MotoGP is above it.

The Japanese have a very good reputation for being an honorable people. They don't like it when people complain about things. They just figure out what needs to be done and do it.

Max made some comments while riding a Honda. Honda didn't appreciate this and they, and the other Japanese manufacturers, basicly (and quietly) black balled him out of MotoGP.

Side Note: I am American (Itialian and English decent) and I am glad our women's soccer team lost to the Japenese team. Japan needed that lift. I would like to see the MotoGP riders go to Japan and on the last lap stay in the order they are in but then all slow down and pull to the side until Hiroshi goes to the front. It wouldn really hurt the standings but it would show the Japanese how the rest of the riders supports them. As it is now, the arm bands and stickers they are displaying are just empty retoric.

I guess it would mean one less chance for Jorge to get points back on Casey. Honda might not mind too much. Judging by the effort the've gone to, I'm guessing they really want the title this year.

Today Autosport published comments by Shuhei Nakamoto suggesting they will have only two HRC motorcycles next year dropping both Dovizioso and Simoncelli.


However I'm afraid David is absolutely right about Stoner risking damaging his relationship with his employer by refusing to go to Motegi. I would be more careful handling this issue, perhaps is too late for that.

Firstly,that was a day of scintilating racing all round. On the subject of Marc Marquez, HRC and Repsol. I am of the opinion that the sooner he gets a satellite GP Honda ride with 2 year contract in hand to start with,the better. He's learned Moto2 pretty quickly and I agree that staying another year in the class will be of no great benefit viz a viz GP1 aspirations.
I hope to see Marc and Stefan on sattelite bikes next year and definitely not CRT.
Some have touted a Rossi return to Honda given Ducati's current performance.
This would make no sense. On the one hand you have Rossi on the downhill slope of his illustrious career and Marquez clearly on the way up.
Perhaps one of Ducati's problems is their ageing rider pool. Experience is great, but youthfull exuberance also has its merits. Barbera and Abraham are the youth on the D16's, but definitely not part of the inner circle in terms of rider input to the factory.
George and Casey put up a great show. Dani was Dani at his best. This title chase is on a knife edge. DNF's are not an option from here on in. HRC are in a better position engine wise and that is a big edge they enjoy. George is perfectly capable of retaining his crown.
Either way, I'll be a happy man if he or Casey lift the laurels this year.
Great to see Ben and Simmo scrapping and climbing up the charts.
Dark horse Dovi,well done yet again. Good going Alvaro. More of the same next Sunday !!!

Just ask Rainey and Doohan. Would've had more success without their career-ending injuries well into their 30s.


"Stoner has been very candid and lucid is his description of both the Ducati and Honda thus helping us all understand what makes a machine work and a world class rider tick. We as fans should be thankful he's prepared to talk in such detail. That'll do it for me over pulling faces any day."

Try reading Lorenzo and Pedrosa in Spanish or Rossi in Italian and you'll get the same level of detail presented as "candidly" and lucidly.

And, sorry, but I have to add this: At Mugello, CS blamed tyre pressure advice from a Bridgestone tech. I took him at his word but thought it interesting when I read the Bridgestone post-race press release that there was no apology to Stoner in it for having cost him the race. That is the norm when a tyre manufacturer is responsible for a rider's poor performance. In the Spanish moto mag, Motociclismo (the one Dennis Noyes writes for), Jose G Maroto and the Italian, Carlo Pernat, both questioned Stoner's tyre pressure story. After this weekend, I'm inclined to wonder whether I should be questioning his candidness myself.

Really? Stoner strikes me as a man who'll put his hand up when he genuinely believes the mistake is his and his alone. He has done this numerous times in the past. He was cool enough not to point the finger directly at his Bridgestone technician describing it as an issue 'the team' discussed. But you are prepared to dismiss Stoners take and even suggest he was BS'ing as a cover for only coming third? Somethings you need to accept at face value unless there's a credible alternative. Chinese whispers don't count.

I'm would hope the other riders did provide Stoner's level of insight to their indigenous language news media.

We had wonderful races, specially in the motogp class. We saw a very good race, with almost heroic performances from riders like Pedrosa ( Go Dani !! ), magic last corners from Lorenzo ( Guts, guts, guts on that clever move, class ! ) and good fights backwards . . . and more and more of you keep on wasting time on the great fiasco season of the italian brand & rider. Go on !

Look Nostradamus, let's not turn this into a slanging match. There are other comments forums online for that. Your remark in your original post ("We as fans should be thankful he's prepared to talk in such detail.") was bizarre, in my opinion. Firstly, Stoner is the only native English speaker regularly winning races in the top class. I am fluent in Spanish so was perfectly able to understand the comments made by Spanish riders in post-race press conferences back in the days when Dorna still allowed riders to express themselves in their mother tongues. I continue to read Spanish press so I know that they go into as much detail as Stoner does about the problems that affect them. To be honest, I find Bradley Smith more articulate and more incisive than Stoner, but anyway...
Secondly, I did not report Chinese whispers. I named the two journalists and the publication in which it is on the record that they speculated that Stoner's tyre problem at Mugello had more to do with the lack of time he and his team had in FP to set the bike up. You may choose to continue to listen only to Stoner and to feel gratitude for all the info he gives you and which you take on face value. I prefer to read journalists of the sport who spend more time in the motogp world than we do and who have more access to people in the sport than we do, in the hope that I am getting the bigger picture. That is why I'm reading Motomatters. I'm a Rossi fan, but I don't go to vale46.com or whatever his site is to find out the inside story on his travails at Ducati. I try to contribute to discussions in my comments and not simply promote the rider I support. It may well be that Stoner was telling the truth about his tyre problem. However, I think it is worth noting that his story was called into question in a top Spanish motorcycle magazine. Even more so, given that he had tyre problems this weekend too.

What is so bizarre about me stating we should be thankful Stoner provides us with his insight? I never said or even implied the other riders do not do the same thing.

As you said yourself your Spanish journalist and magazine 'speculated'.

And I too was a little confused about the tire pressure issue. I am wondering if he just thought that was the issue but later after looking at the data realized it was something else. But on the other side, many journalists from Spain were also reporting Dani was bowling and riding a Motard bike which he claims to be ridiculous.

I notice that Jorge does really long runs in practice and ends up with many more laps and so he has more of an idea how his tire will work over race distance. I think Stoner's method of short runs is great if you are really lost on your setup and trying lots of different settings, but if you are pretty close I would think the long runs would be better. Clearly Stoner has the pace to win just about any race, but if he wants to win the championship he needs to get his tire issues sorted.

Wow, not sure what was said that justified deleting my post, but there you go!

One of the few times I choose to participate and my post is deleted....I guess you can go ahead and cancel my user name. I will not be posting any longer. Obviously it's easy to make sure people only read certain things when the moderator can delete whatever they choose for no good reason. The least that should be done is an explanation in the place of where the post was on why it was deleted.

I moderate this site very stringently. I delete posts regularly - though thankfully, it is not necessary too often - mainly as a pre-emptive measure, before things get out of hand. Your post was not deleted so much for its contents, as for the responses it had started to generate and was likely to generate. The contents of your post were mainly valid - Rossi remains a nine-time world champion, and there is no reason to suspect he has lost any of his talent - but any mention of "haters" (or references to the supposedly inferior intelligence of posters on other websites) tend to bring out the worst kind of debate, so I delete them before they get out of hand. So my deleting your comment was not aimed at you, but at containing the responses your post had started to provoke. Your posts have for the most part been very much in the spirit of the website, so I appreciate your contributions very much. 

As a guide to how I moderate and why, here's something I wrote after the Rossi/Stoner Jerez incident, explaining moderation policy here.

>>> but I want to make sure I understand this completely. I can understand the deletion since I chose to use certain words and phrases ("haters" and the term "we are all smart enough"), which I now understand, but let me make sure I understand the rest of your explanation.

You decided to delete my post because of what might happen? I understand your interest in not wanting a big attack amongst members, but if someone takes the time to share their thoughts on this website, isn't the least you can do is let it play out before you delete it? I am completely with you in deleting a post that has gotten out of hand. But deleting it before it gets out of hand seems a little premature, IMO. Have more faith in us....we are all grown ups here. It just doesn't seem fair to say your deletion wasn't aimed at me, but at the replies my post had started to provoke. At least not in my world. I try not to let anyone else pay for someone elses actions, which was basically what your explanation was for me. Your post was mainly ok but I'm sure someone would have came along and messed it up, so delete!

It's ok ...Im reading too much into this, Im sure. I love your work, and I will continue to be a big fan! But obviously this site is not for me to participate. I am not going to take the tiime to write something just so I can sit and wonder if it will be deleted for something that hasn't happened. I'm just not that good at predicting the future. No loss to you guys .... I'll remain a lurker and keep my opinions to myself.


GoVale ..... signing out.

I have found that waiting until a discussion turns nasty is the wrong policy for this site. Too much animosity has been created by that time, and it rears its ugly head elsewhere very shortly afterwards. By deleting threads that might turn nasty - or when  just as they turn nasty - I prevent the tone of the site descending into childish argument. I am genuinely sorry, as I have lost several outstanding posts after people have replied in threads that turned nasty elsewhere. I am most sorry of all for the people who have put all that effort into typing a reply, only to see their efforts go to waste. In the long run, though, things are better for everyone this way.

I'm a moderator on another website.

Taking the 'wait and see if it turns ugly' approach isn't realistic.
That requires 24/7/365 moderation.

I'm absolutely sure that David has better things to do than monitor every single post here.

Thanks to someone for pointing out Chris's post in the Friday wrap-up about the Ducati engine config, and this pic:
What fascinates me is that the engine doesn't even appear to be as far forward as it could go: there looks to be plenty of clearance between the front heads and the tyre.
Maybe just camera angle?

Oh, for the "Carbon Fibre is the root of all evil" believers: why is it that it worked so successfully as the swingarm material on the Aprilia 250?

"The problem is in the choice of clutch they are using: it eliminates the bulk of the chatter they have suffered in the past, but the downside is that it can sometimes be a bit harsh and lock the rear. The workaround to the problem is to keep the power on, but this chews through the tire too quickly."

Can you give a little more information here? When was this new clutch introduced? Was it this year? It seems Stoner's tire problems popped up out of nowhere at Mugello. Is this new clutch the one that was introduced to allow the riders to more easily push start their bikes?

The clutch is a modified version of the clutch used since lat last year, but that also involves a lot of electronics used in corner entry. So it's not as simple as saying "the clutch" any more. It's the total package of clutch and electronics.